American inventor and Founding Father Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Studies show that education contributes to reduced poverty, increased income, boosted economic growth, and healthier families.

Governor Newsom has made education a priority for his Administration — particularly early childhood education — to which he’s dedicated nearly $1.8 billion in his proposed budget. And he’s pulling together a team of advisors on children’s and education issues that’s larger than any governor in our state’s history.

We applaud his efforts on behalf of young people and remind state leaders that this is but one piece of a larger education puzzle.

As one early education expert put it, “to support children’s learning, we need to support adult learning and capacity.” Early learning and adult education go hand in hand.

Today, about 3.5 million California adults have no or few English language skills, while six million lack a high school diploma. Not only does this leave many unemployed or trapped in low-pay, dead-end jobs, millions are unable to help their school-aged children with homework or communicate with their teachers.

Research clearly shows that educated parents raise better-educated children who are more likely to succeed in life — with higher income and even improved health.

Adult education helps fix this, providing a way up for our immigrant communities, as well as people in poverty, the homeless and inmates reentering society. We’re giving them the skills to succeed in the workplace, at home and in life — and that benefits all Californians by reducing the need for public assistance and giving children a better chance at success.

Millions of Californians are changing their lives thanks to adult education, like Maria, who is using Adult Ed to help complete her application for citizenship and then pursue her High School Equivalency (HSE), and Diego and Cesia, married immigrant doctors who are taking an ESL class to prepare for their U.S. Board Certification to practice here in the US, and Jose, who is improving his English to feel closer to his children and to start his own business. These are real stories from real people.

We give adult Californians, especially those in our underserved communities, an opportunity to train for good-paying jobs, earn High School Equivalency, study English and basic education, prepare for college, acquire the parenting skills to raise healthier children, and more.

Moreover, adult students learn in local schools — often their children’s own elementary school — offering flexible schedules to accommodate those who are working. And by putting classrooms to work in the evenings, we’re doubling their impact.

But adult education funding must keep pace to ensure long-term success. California’s renewed commitment to early childhood education will fail if we don’t give parents access to the language, literacy and other basic skills they need to help their children, and families, succeed.

Capacity in K-12 adult schools is in jeopardy as they struggle with stagnant funding and increasing costs. While we appreciate the Governor’s COLA, an investment corresponding to the value and worth of better educated parents and workers is needed.

This is most certainly an investment worth making.